Truckers Protest New Federal Regs Using Tech
“It’s amazing to me how many experts there are in trucking that have never set their butt in a truck,” said one irate driver, quoted in Transport Topics.
It’s not easy to make a living driving a truck. It’s a profession plagued with constantly changing conditions, people, parameters and legal responsibilities.
Truckers used to be required to juggle logbooks and try to make them work to make a living wage. Starting this month, they were required to use an electronic logging device or ELD. Essentially, the ELD is a flash drive that plugs into a truck engine’s control module to track whether the engine is running, the odometer is logging miles, the GPS location, and so on. To inspect a trucker’s logs, a police officer plugs into the ELD unit. Any trucker found in violation of their “Hours of Service” restrictions gets sidelined for 10 hours—a major hit in a business where running late costs money.
In an article for Wired.com, writer Nick Stockton, exposes the stresses ELDs are putting on truckers. Created to prevent cheating on logbooks and drivers falling asleep behind the wheel, ELDs now track every move a driver makes, without any associated relay of information about extenuating circumstances.
Truckers have very little control over their schedules. Bad weather might force them off the road. Unexpected traffic jams can snarl carefully planned routes. Shippers and recipients often keep trucks idling for hours.
Parking also wreaks havoc on a schedule.
“If you aren’t parked by 4 p.m. in New England, you’re not going to find a spot,” says John Grosvenor, founder of Truckers United for Freedom, he lives in New Hampshire. Such scarcity means truckers often cut their work days short just to make sure they have a place to go for the night. “If there was a five-mile backup traffic jam, and I see a rest area, why shouldn’t I be able to just pull in there and rest until road clear?”
Truckers also have valid complaints about the ELDs themselves. Norita Taylor, spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says the government offers little quality assurance for devices on the market. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has allowed manufacturers to self-certify their devices,” she says. The agency published a functional spec for what these devices were supposed to do, and authorized a few hundred manufacturers to build the things. Predictably, a lot of them suck.
So a battle is underway to keep truckers livelihoods a viable thing in the present as well as the future⎯and it’s making waves on all levels: from the statehouse, to the courthouse, to the warehouse.
ELD protesters directed their anger at President Trump, too, since he promised to reduce regulations, but his Administration did the opposite. Last October, protesters gathered in front of the Department of Transportation, and blew air horns outside the White House to get Trump’s attention. A few months later, they began tweeting at the chief executive using the #ELDorMe hashtag—indicating they would quit trucking over the law.
More Bad News For Truckers in AI Trucks
Additional links to articles detail the pressure facing the trucking profession because of autonomous trucks.